Myanmar has reached an agreement with the Thai Ministry of Labour to allow Myanmar migrant workers residing in Thailand for four years to re-enter the country after staying one month in Myanmar, according to the Migrant Worker Rights Network.
The original agreement between Myanmar and Thailand signed in 2003 stated that Myanmar migrant workers with temporary passports were limited to four years in Thailand and were required to return home for three years before returning to Thailand.
Many migrant workers ended up staying illegally after their visas expired and have been facing exploitations, the announcement from the Migrant Worker Rights Network said.
The Migrant Worker Rights Network, Thai Labor Solidarity Committee, and the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation of Thailand met with Thai Ministry of Labour on Sunday on the future of Myanmar migrant workers who have reached the four-year visa limit, according to the announcement.
“The workers will face difficulties like in the past if they overstay and become illegal workers after their visas have expired.
ccording to the former system, those who didn’t want to return home will stay here and they will face difficulties. So, now the migrant workers can have ‘peace of mind’ when they only have to stay one month [in Myanmar] instead of three years,” said Ko Tun from the Thailand-based Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN).
The announcement stated that Pravit Khiengpol, the Director General of Thai Ministry of Labour made the announcement at the meeting with MWRN on September 1.
Migrant workers can have their visas extended in Mae Sot, Mae Sai, Ranong, and Kanchanaburi.
Pravit Khiengpol was quoted as saying in the announcement that the Thai Ministry of Labour will arrange for the migrant workers to return only after they show documents for having reached an agreement with their employers for salaries, work hours, and social welfare allowances.
The Thai Ministry will release details about this issue on September 5.–
Diplomatic efforts by the Myanmar government to resolve the continuing migrant labour crisis with Thailand af failed so far and according to some observers, workers coming back home could face lack of employment opportunities in Burma.
Four-year work visas held by up to 100,000 Burmese migrant workers in Thailand have expired or are close to ending, and the Bangkok government has sent confused signals about the workers’ fate. Tens of thousands more visas will expire during 2014.